By Asha Rollins
Last week, the Governor’s School for Agriculture students had the opportunity to take several field trips. On Thursday, we traveled to Virginia Tech’s Kentland Farm facility. There, my group was able to observe several aspects of plant agriculture. We saw large fields of soybean plants, on which researchers were conducting genetic experiments, agricultural drones, and cows living in a silvopasture system. Then, on Friday, we visited Virginia Tech’s cattle, swine, equine, and sheep centers.
Virginia Tech’s farm facilities are used not only for research purposes but also to produce food, some of which is found in the D2 dining hall which Governor’s School students visit daily. As the picture below shows, D2’s beloved chocolate milk is produced at Kentland Farm. You can learn more about VT’s dining sourcing at dining.vt.edu/sourcing.
My global seminar group is working on the issue of food safety, specifically, the ways that water quality issues cause foodborne illness. This involvement with the topic of food safety gives a different perspective on what we have learned at Governor’s School and on our field trips. Many problems that my group has identified involve farm or production settings related to those we were able to observe, such as the use of poor-quality water to grow crops or rinse meat carcasses. Furthermore, we have learned that Virginia Tech’s New River watershed area is unique because it contains both farms and a college campus, as well as city/neighborhood areas, all of which could affect local water quality.
It is interesting how our topic relates to the food we have been eating, the facilities we have been visiting, and the watershed we have been living in. This reflects how wide-reaching and relevant agriculture is in today’s society, something that I had not fully realized before the Governor’s School.
Asha Rollins is a 2019 Governor School for Agriculture
Edited by Dami Alegbeleye, a 2019 Governor School Leader